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First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Lakers 02.18.10 at 11:15 pm ET
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The Celtics started quickly with an 11-2 run to open the game, but the Lakers closed the gap in the final minute, leaving the Celtics with a 29-27 lead after one. Rajon Rondo scored eight points and had two assists, while Ray Allen made all four of his shots to finish the quarter with nine points.

The Lakers are playing without Kobe Bryant and repeatedly tried to establish themselves in the post with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who each scored points.

Newest Celtics Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry are not with the team.

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Poll: Do you like the Nate Robinson trade? at 5:38 pm ET
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Do you think trading for Nate Robinson was a good move for the Celtics?

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Fast Break: Celtics vs. Kings 02.17.10 at 12:40 am ET
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With trade rumors swirling around a possible acquisition of Nate Robinson, the Celtics found themselves locked in an offensive struggle against one of the fastest-paced teams in the league. That might have been OK to play the Sacramento Kings style earlier in the season, but the Celtics can’t afford to mess around with sub-.500 teams anymore.

Enter the bench. The very same bench that Danny Ainge seems determined to try to tweak between now and the trade deadline Thursday.

Playing one of their most inspired quarters, the second unit took an 11-point lead behind the hot shooting of Eddie House and the interior defense of Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis. The Celtics rode that effort, and survived a shaky fourth quarter, en route to a 95-92 win over the Kings Tuesday night.

Wallace, Davis, House and Marquis Daniels all played major roles in the victory and helped the Celtics overcome a lackluster performance from the starting five. It’s only one game, of course, but if they had played that well for the majority of the season (and been healthy enough to try) Ainge wouldn’t be attempting to perform a makeover at the deadline.

Turning Point: Despite the bench’s efforts, the Celtics still had to work for it. Paul Pierce, who had a sub-par shooting game otherwise, drilled a 3-pointer with 1:38 remaining that put the Celtics ahead, 89-87. The Kings helped out mightily by missing four free throws down the stretch.

Player of the Game: Rasheed Wallace. The backup big man has maintained throughout the season that he, and the Celtics, will get things right when it counts. Tuesday night was a step in the right direction. Wallace finished with 17 points, five rebounds and three blocks, but it was his play down low that was so effective. Wallace dominated on the block in the first half and was also an active presence defensively. He shifted back outside in the second half, but he served a reminder that once again he is the Celtics best post-up player. When he wants to be.

* The starters were shredded defensively in the first quarter as the Kings shot 55 percent and made 5-of-8 from 3-point range. A balanced scoring effort and a lack of turnovers helped the Celtics match the Kings, 30-30.

* Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both went 5-for-15. Rajon Rondo also struggled, going 1-for-6.

* Kevin Garnett had nine rebounds through the first three quarters and almost recorded his first double-digit rebounding game since Dec. 18 against the Sixers, but he couldn’t get over the hump.

* Eddie House made four 3-pointers, something he hasn’t been able to do since a Dec. 30 blowout loss to the Suns.

* Glen Davis had five offensive rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.

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Halftime wrap: Celtics vs. Kings 02.16.10 at 11:11 pm ET
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After a sloppy first quarter defensively, the Celtics rode their bench to a 57-52 halftime lead over the Kings. Led by Rasheed Wallace’s 10 points, and inspired defensive play, the Celtics took control midway through the quarter and led by as many as 11 points.

Wallace was hardly the only bench contributor. Eddie House knocked down three 3-pointers, Glen Davis had six points and six rebounds and Marquis Daniels did his usual all-around number with seven points, three rebounds and a steal.

The second unit’s production was critical because Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo shot a combined 4-for-15. Despite that, there were other positive signs for the Celtics offensively. They only turned the ball over five times and made half of their 12 3-point attempts.

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Preview: Celtics vs. Kings at 10:12 am ET
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Taking a much-needed break from the trade deadline rumors the Celtics return to the court Tuesday night to play the Kings… who happen to employ one of the few names actually linked to a Ray Allen trade; Kevin Martin. Obviously all eyes will be on the two shooting guards this evening, if for no other reason than idle curiosity.

Even if Danny Ainge was somehow able to swing major trade (which doesn’t seem likely) the Celtics have problems that only they can fix. They don’t rebound very well. They turn the ball over too much and they don’t shoot as well from 3-point range as they have in the past.

All those things are symptoms of other things. Their defense has allowed too much dribble penetration, which has led to defensive breakdowns and clear alleys for opponents to hit the glass. The offense has gone stagnant too often, leading to bad passes and forced shots.

These have in turn been referred to as “issues” and “agendas,” which is way more exciting and intriguing then simply noting that they are not playing well. The question, then, for the Celtics in the final 32 games is: Are their breakdowns mental or are they physical? They continue to insist that they are mental and that they can fix their problems. Now they have to prove it.

CELTICS (32-18, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 98.7

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +5.0 (4th)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.2 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)

Pace: 91.5 (23rd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: None.

KINGS (18-34, 3-7 last 10)

Points Per Game: 102.0

Points Allowed: 105.8

Differential: -3.8 (22nd)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.5 (17th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.5 (26th)

Pace: 94.6 (6th)

Likely Starters: Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin, Donte Greene, Omri Casspi, Spencer Hawes

Injuries: Francisco Garcia (Wrist) Read the rest of this entry »

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Fast Break: Celtics vs. Hornets 02.10.10 at 10:34 pm ET
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At what point does a string of bad performances become a problem that can’t be fixed? At what point does the Celtics uninspired second-half play inspire Danny Ainge to do something to change the mix?

Ainge was a guest on The Big Show hours before the Celtics collapsed (again) in the third quarter of a 93-85 loss to the Hornets Wednesday night and said he was, “not ready to blow it up.” [Click here for a full transcript]. If the Magic breakdown wasn’t enough to change Ainge’s mind, was this one?

There’s a week to go before the trade deadline and the Celtics have shown few signs of breaking out of their funk, which has now stretched to 23 games. The Celtics are 10-13 over that span. Is that the real Celtics, or is it the team that started the season winning 22 of the first 27 games? That’s the question Ainge has to answer, and time is running out.

Player of the Game: Darren Collison. The Hornets rookie who was starting in place of the injured Chris Paul routinely broke down the Celtics defense with dribble penetration and finished with 25 points and nine assists. When Collison wasn’t getting into the paint, he killed them with his pull-up jump shot.

Turning Point: Once again the Celtics collapse started with a sluggish offense and carried over to a lackluster defensive effort. The Celtics actually held serve with the Hornets until the 7:26 mark of the third quarter. That was when Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic began to heat up from behind the arc. The 3-point barrage was eerily similar to the Magic game, as was the Celtics lack of an answer on offense.

* Ray Allen was scratched about an hour before the game with back spasms. It was the first game Allen has missed this season.

* The Celtics started off hot, but the Hornets got hotter making eight of their first 10 shots.The C’s also turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter.

* The second unit rode to the rescue, at least momentarily, with an inspired effort. With all five starters on the bench, the reserves opened up a nine-point lead in the second quarter. They did most of their damage down low as Glen Davis (nine points) and Rasheed Wallace (eight points) took advantage of mismatches against the Hornets reserve big men.

* Eddie House and Marquis Daniels also played the entire quarter ahead of starters Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen.

* Paul Pierce did play despite pain in his left foot. After 13 points in the first half, Pierce scored just two points in the second.

* The Celtics made just 3-of-13 free throws during a stretch of the second half.

* Daniels and Wallace were the only Celtics who played strong games. They combined for 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

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Celtics vs. Hornets: Third quarter wrap at 9:57 pm ET
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The Celtics starters came out with better energy to start the second half, but worse execution. The Hornets began to chip away at the lead as Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic heated up from 3-point range, giving this game the familiar feel of the Orlando nightmare from over the weekend.

Doc Rivers went to his bench earlier than usual in an attempt to change the flow of the game, but the Hornets kept making shots. The Celtics also missed six straight free throws, which didn’t help the cause. When it was over, New Orleans had outscored the Celtics, 29-12 and taken a 72-67 lead.

They have 12 minutes to turn this thing around, or face a host of uncomfortable questions over the next week.

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